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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 March 2007, 16:00 GMT
Anger over sign language charges
Alex Wood
Alex has started to pick up words through sign language
A Harrogate family say they are angry that they have to pay for sign language lessons to enable them to communicate with their two-year-old son.

Debby Wood and her daughter Natalie have been taking sign language lessons at Harrogate College to help them talk to son Alex, who was born deaf.

But each class costs 5 per person, which the family say is prohibitive.

Harrogate College, the Department of Education and Skills, and the Learning and Skills Council declined to comment.

In some areas of the country, the fees for courses in sign language and lip reading are absorbed by colleges or subsidised by the local authority, but in Harrogate they are not.

'Should be free'

The family said they could not afford for all of them to attend the classes.

Mrs Wood said: "I think it is terrible, at the time it really upset me because all I want to do is talk to my son through sign, and here I am not being able to afford it."

Father Ian Wood said: "Ideally I would love to attend the course, but the cost of the course is quite prohibitive and we are getting no assistance.

"Considering the fact that it is a life skill, it is quite ridiculous that we have to pay for this - it should be free."

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